Population Growth in Pakistan

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In early 1994, the population of Pakistan was estimated to be 126 million, making it the ninth most populous country in the world. Its land area, however, ranks thirty-second among nations. Thus Pakistan has about 2 percent of the world's population living on less than 0.7 percent of the world's land. The population growth rate is among the world's highest, officially estimated at 3.1 percent per year, but privately thought to be closer to 3.3 percent per year by many planners involved in population programs. Pakistan's population is expected to reach 150 million by 2000 and to account for 4 percent of the world's population growth between 1994 and 2004. Pakistan's population is expected to double between 1994 and 2022. These figures are estimates, however, because ethnic unrest led the government to postpone its decennial census in 1991. The government felt that tensions among Punjabis, Sindhis, muhajirs (immigrants or descendants of immigrants from India), Pakhtuns, and religious minorities were such that taking the census might provoke violent reactions from groups who felt they had been undercounted. The 1991 census had still not been carried out as of early 1994. The 1981 census enumerated 84.2 million persons. Population Distribution and Density Pakistan's people are not evenly distributed throughout the country. There is an average of 146 persons per square kilometer, but the density varies dramatically, ranging from scarcely populated arid areas, especially in Balochistan, to some of the highest urban densities in the world in Karachi and Lahore. About 68 percent of the population lived in rural areas in 1994, a decrease of 7 percent since 1970. In contrast, the number of people living in urban areas has risen substantially, resulting in an urban growth rate of 4.6 percent between 1980 and 1991. More than half of Pakistan's population is below the age of fifteen; nearly a third is below the age of nine. For cultural reasons, enumerating the precise number of females has been difficult--and estimates of the percentage of females in the population range from 47.5 percent in the 1981 census to 48.3 percent in the 1987-88 Labour Force Survey. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world with an inverse sex ratio: official sources claim there are 111 men for every 100 women. The discrepancy is particularly obvious among people over fifty: men account for 7.1 percent of the country's total population and women for less than 5 percent. This figure reflects the secondary status of females in Pakistani society, especially their lack of access to quality medical care. Population Planning Policies and Problems Pakistan's extremely high rate of population growth is caused by a falling death rate combined with a continuing high birth rate. In 1950 the mortality rate was twenty-seven per 1,000 population; by 1990 the rate had dropped to twelve (estimated) per 1,000. Yet throughout this period, the birth rate was fortyfour per 1,000 population. On average, in 1990 each family had 6.2 children, and only 11 percent of couples were regularly practicing contraception. In 1952 the Family Planning Association of Pakistan, an NGO, initiated efforts to contain population growth. Three years later, the government began to fund the association and noted the need to reduce population growth in its First Five-Year Plan (1955-60). The government soon combined its population planning efforts in hospitals and clinics into a single program. Thus population planning was a dual effort led by the Family Planning Association and the public sector. In the mid-1960s, the Ministry of Health initiated a program in which intrauterine devices (IUDs) were promoted. Payments were offered to hospitals and clinics as incentives, and midwives were trained to treat patients. The government was able to attract funding from many international donors, but the program lost support because the targets were overly ambitious and because doctors and clinics...
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